When is the right time to teach children to write?

[deleted account] ( 13 moms have responded )

I have a 3 years old son, he is at kinder and this year they started to "prepare" for writing - so far just the organised lines but the books we had to buy for this grade include writing all the letters of the alphabet, basic maths INCLUDING basic adding (2+3=5 etc). I come from a different culture where this is unheard of, the children start MUCH later, actually only at school at the age of 6 and - I read an opinion of a UK psychologist - that the "late starters" get all the things MUCH FASTER then those who start too early. My husband, who is a Maltese, finds age of 6a bit too late (as school starts at 5 here) however we share the opinion that the kindergarten should be for fun, playing, socializing, learning "things important for life" and SCHOOL is for studying. However, I know many mothers who are in favour of this early start. What is your opinion about it?



BTW, as his teacher told me, as much as my son loves outdoor activities and also drawing, crafts and so on, he simply refuses to take part in this "organised" activity of writing. Also, when I look at his drawings, I think his motor skills are simply not "there" yet.

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Jodi - posted on 10/19/2009

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I think 3 is way too young to expect children to actually write their letters!! At this age, they are still developing their fine motor skills, which are the muscles they need developed in order to be able to control any writing implements. My daughter is in pre-school (she is 4 1/2) and will be starting kindergarten at 'big school' in February. At the moment, she can write all of the alphabet, but that has been something she has only developed this year. Prior to that, she was learning to draw shapes, lines, etc, just to help develop her fine motor skills. She loves to draw, LOL!! Most kids don't have the motor skills to "write" yet at the age of 3, and I find pushing them that hard at the age of 3 is just way too young.



In my opinion, it is far more effective to develop the fine motor skills in a child that age by doing something fun (like drawing, which, as you said, your son enjoys), than to have it as an organised activity of "writing"!!

[deleted account]

I live in Malta. Of course he is not ready. Nor physically (motor skills), nor mentally (he doesn't grasp the idea why he should sit at the desk and write something someone else tells him). He has a great imagination and creativity, he loves other things but this is simply NOT for him YET.

Jodi - posted on 10/19/2009

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Jana, you are not wrong. What country are you in? And state (if applicable)? Maybe someone could give you further advice on the system. I can't help you there. But I really don't think your son sounds ready (just my opinion though - I don't know your son, but trust your own judgement).

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Amanda - posted on 11/02/2014

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I know this post is way old, but I was doing some googling and this thread showed up. So two things. I could write my entire Alphabet by 4 41/2. Three isn't way too young to start learning. I learned in psychology that children should be able to copy letters, hold a pencil correctly, and not fist crayons anymore. 3 is fine. In fact my four they should be printing simple words.

Jodi - posted on 10/19/2009

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Thanks Jana. I hope someone here may be able to help you with your region's specific info. But you are doing the right thing as parents in being worried about this. Admittedly, that is just my opinion :) But at age 3, learning should be fun.

[deleted account]

He's been going to the kinder for 2 years already - last year it was ok, they just had activities. Only now they started with this. The thing is that he is used to children already, whole summer he was asking "when am I going to school again". Now taking him completely out would not be good for him, I think. I am thinking of changing the school the problem is I have a feeling ALL the kinders are like that these days... MAybe I am wrong I don't know. And you are right Jodi, I am worried he would start hating "school duties" - and it would be a pity, he is a smart kid.

Jodi - posted on 10/19/2009

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Jana, I don't think you are. If your child is not ready to be in organised writing classes, don't force it. There is no point souring him on education now. Kids who are forced into skills before they are physically and emotionally ready will end up hating it, and it will cause distress for everyone involved. I would get him out, and give it another year. I am not sure if you work or not, but perhaps focus on just drawing, shapes, and colours at this stage (in a fun way), and you will be able to see when his motor skills are ready for writing letters, and also when he shows an interest.

[deleted account]

Well, actually that's what we are starting to think about but I wanted to know some other mums' opinions re this issue just to be sure I am not reacting as a panicky "blind" mother, the kind of "everyone's bad but my beloved child".

Jodi - posted on 10/19/2009

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Quoting Jana:

...actually, today I got to know he was even punished for "not wanting to write" by sending him outside the classroom.



Jana, I am not sure where you live, but I'd be getting him out of that school.  Punishing them at this age for "not wanting to write" could set him up for hating school in the future, and that is not going to be of benefit to him at all.  It will only make him hate going to school, and could cause potential behavioural problems. 

[deleted account]

...actually, today I got to know he was even punished for "not wanting to write" by sending him outside the classroom.

[deleted account]

I think a three year old should be a three year old - I dont know many who would enjoy sitting down and learning to write. However my Mum started teaching my niece a few letters one at a time as part of their drawing time - they would draw 'a's together for a few minutes then move back to flowers and other scribble. She is just coming up to 4 yo now and can almost write her first name (Elizabeth) but she doesnt really understand what she is writing yet it more of a game for her but she is proud when she gets her full name right (with ample help). I would ask the kindy not to push him if he isn't interested in learning these skills just yet and let him enjoy some creative time (such as drawing) instead...

Alicia - posted on 10/18/2009

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I was against putting my children in school until I absolutely had to. Well my oldest was a preemie and has a speech delay, insurance would only pay for therapy until he was 3 then he would have to be put in public school to get speech. I looked into paying for it on my own, but couldn't. So off to preschool he went, well he loved it. Ever since then he just looks for stuff to learn, he goes around asking me how to spell stuff, and wants me to help him read books that our above his level. He is almost 6yrs old now and currently in kindergarten. His teacher is constantly complementing on his ability to pick things up so quickly. He can write, spell, and read, he is also adding and subtracting. Both my children are very active and love to be outdoor, the oldest wants to play every sport there is. So for my oldest it turned out great, but my second also has a speech delay and again I find myself worried, because I know that every child is different. I would recommend doing things at your sons pace, even though my oldest had to go to preschool early they never forced him, each child in the class was taught and learned things at their own pace

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